Trying to determine the difference between what trail runners eat versus what road runners eat is like trying to tell the difference between ambrosia and gala apples. While they look similar, taste similar, and are the same fruit, there is still a distinct difference between the two.
Often, trail runners are out in a training run or in a race a lot longer than their road compatriots. A half-marathon on the trails can take double the time than one on the road does, based on how technical the route is, the elevation change and potential navigation. There is far more to think about during a trail race than the monotony of putting one foot in front of the other on the roads. For that reason, the fueling for trail runs versus road runs differs. There need to be slower-release nutrients for prolonged satiation; recovery food must be abundant with nutrients (as it does after a road run) and easily digestible.
I spoke with a few avid (and very talented) trail runners, who provided insights about their favourite foods. Tory Scholz discussed her love of orzo and the simplicity it brings to carb-loading before a race. Anne Marie Madden divulged that her go-to pre-run fuel is toast and almond butter. Ellie Greenwood praised the idea of a hearty brunch with friends after a run. In turn, recipes for a pre-run dinner, a pre-run breakfast and a post-run feast with friends came to mind.
Orzo, a small and versatile pasta, is a great carb-loader. Like any runner knows, pasta is a common carbo-loading option. Orzo can have a light and fresh taste when made into a salad with juicy cherry tomatoes, fragrant basil and salty feta cheese that’s easily digestible, filling and delicious.
Toast is a beautiful thing in its simplicity. The way to take it to another level is by baking the bread at home. While the process takes longer than walking to the grocery store and buying a loaf, the taste is worth the wait. Taking 3.5 hours from start to finish produces a bread so soft and seedy, it’ll become a staple Sunday ritual. Top it off with any combination of spreads: almond butter, banana, honey, jam, cheese, eggs, or avocado and your taste buds will sing.
Brunch is always better together. A sure way to maintain friendships is by providing food, especially after a run when everyone is hangry. This simple slow cooker dish requires about 10 minutes of prep time, 2.5 to 3 hours of cooking time, leading to a late morning of voracious appetites satisfied. Chock-a-block with protein, good carbs and healthy fats, it’s is a sure crowd-pleaser.
- 1 ½ cups of dried orzo
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves sliced thinly
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1x 7-ounce container diced feta
- In a large pot, bring approx. 3 litres of water to a rolling boil.
- Add in the dried orzo and boil for 9-10 mins (based on the package directions, until al dente). Stir occasionally to prevent clumping.
- While the orzo is boiled, slice the tomatoes and basil.
- Drain orzo in a colander and place in a large mixing bowl.
- Stir in the tomatoes, basil leaves, feta and olive oil.
- Best served immediately.
Better Together Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole
- 1 dozen eggs
- ½ cup milk
- ½ tsp garlic salt
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 lb sweet potatoes, finely diced
- 1 lb sausage of choice, sliced
- 2 red bell peppers, chopped into 1” pieces
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped into 1” pieces
- ½ onion, finely diced
- 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 cup grated old cheddar cheese (optional)
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt and garlic salt. Set aside.
- Chop vegetables, sausages and grate the cheese (if using).
- Spray the slow cooker with cooking spray to prevent sticking.
- Layer ingredients: sweet potatoes and sausage on the bottom, followed by peppers, onion and spinach on top. Pour the whisked eggs over the top, making sure to pour over everything. If using cheese, sprinkle on top.
- Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook for 6-8 hours on low, or 2.5-3 hours on high.
Easy Seedy Bread
- 1 ½ cups warm water
- ¾ tbsp fast-acting yeast (or 1 packet)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup (honey works too)
- ½ tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp flaxseed meal
- 3 ¾ cups flour (Robin Hood Multigrain Blend Flour is my favourite)
- 2 tbsp rolled oats
- 2 tbsp roasted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
- Combine warm water, yeast, salt, maple syrup, flaxseed meal and flour in a large mixing bowl. Stir until a rough, sticky dough forms; to fully combine, knead the dough with your hands in the bowl until it forms a ball. If using a stand mixer, beat with the dough hook for about 1 minute until a ball forms.
- Lift the dough out of the bowl, and lightly grease the bowl with olive oil or cooking spray. Cover and let rise in the fridge for 2 hours.
- Once risen, place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and poke a hole into the dough to add the oats and seeds. Knead until elastic (about 20 turns), and then form into a loaf-like shape (think the size of a loaf pan).
- Lightly grease a loaf pan and place the formed dough inside, seam down. Cover with plastic wrap for 45-60 minutes.
- Near the end of the resting time, preheat the oven to 425F and place a metal or cast iron pan (not glass or ceramic) on the bottom oven rack.
- Once the loaf is rested, slash the bread 2-4 times horizontally across the top about ½” deep. Option to use an egg wash and sprinkle additional seeds on top if desired.
- Place the loaf pan in the middle rack, and carefully add about 1.5 cups of water into the metal pan that heated up during the oven’s preheat. The water will bubble and steam, this is fine, just close the oven door quickly (the steam helps bake the bread).
- Bake for about 25-35 minutes; until the loaf has risen and is a deep golden brown.
- Remove the break from the oven and let rest for about 5 minutes before transferring out of the tin and onto a cooling rack.
- For best results, let the loaf completely cool before slicing.